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Confession of a Novel Reader

“Cease wholly to read fiction the moment you find that it begins to render…
the common duties of life irksome, or injure you in any way.”

—J. T. Crane, father of Stephen

I’d like to take back my silence
this morning when the man in
the white beret walked his chow
past our house at the usual time,
the dog round and fluffed,

he trim as tendons, the white of his
cap like the white tuft at the tip
of the dog’s curved tail. Instead of
calling to you “Chow!” as is my
custom, so you’ll say it back to me—

my voice going up, yours down—
this morning I saw our exchange
was just the sort of thing a character
in a book would remember about
the wife from whom he was estranged,

that remembering a chance for
the character to realize what he’s
lost and for the reader to realize
his capability of such realization,

thereby ruining our ritual

a little.

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